This story is the second-place winner in the Front Page’s first ever Halloween Writing Contest.
By Adian Svensk
The streets have teeth. Ivory individuals strewn and shattered. Serrated introspections in urine-stained pools. Mouths of darkened door stoops, littered with the remnants of consumption. Every light is broken, every window dark. A town cannibalized by the teeth that line every vein and vessel. They like to watch from the shadows. As humanity ebbs with the setting sun. That’s when they come out. In the darkness. Walking down the lane where old Mrs. Quinby lives…lived. Or I suppose still lives if you can call it living. I can describe such an existence only as starving. Thirsting. When we get to her you’ll see…
Excuse me if my speaking seems obtuse, but this town is obtuse. It was constructed sometime in the last century and is, in all senses, a suburb. Except the sense in which it is connected to a city. If you were to walk to the edge of town and look out into the surrounding country you would see a flat wide expanse that is almost impossibly empty, except for the distant silhouette of a monument. A monument to nothing in particular, just one built for the sake of having one.
But, we should get back to the street. It is long and dark and lined with houses, pressed close together, wall to wall. It looks almost as though there are only two houses, one on the left and one on the right, but there are many houses. One of which belongs to the aforementioned Mrs. Quinby.
It should be noted that though she is called Mrs. Quinby she is not married, has never been married, and it is quite unlikely that she will be in the foreseeable future. That being said, at present, the future is not very foreseeable. Though, it never really has been foreseeable, seeing as the past interpretation of the present situation is not nor has ever been very accurate.
But, that being said we should get back to the street. It is not a very straight street, in fact, this street makes up the entirety of the town. Except that it doesn’t quite make up the entirety of the town, but… That’s right the street, I should really get back to the street. I really must apologize my mind has a tendency to wander, in fact ever since I got here every time I have tried to talk or even think about the town I have found myself obsessing on small details such as the particular shade of green that tints the road sign. It is kind of lime but with a shade of forest and just the ever so subtle touch of neon. But, what was I talking about… Oh, that’s right the street.
At this point I should just give up on the street, instead, I will try and describe the houses. Yes, um, yes the first house is brown. Not a particularly interesting shade, but it does feature a large rose bush growing in the driveway. Mrs. Quinby thinks it is abhorrent, but I have taken a liking to it. This is my house, or as I should say our house. There are many of us living in it as the town can get quite lonely and it eases the burden of transportation.
There is Nora, who is, how should I put it… blind. Once when Mr. Oswald wrung the church bell too early she walked down the flight of stairs from the second story to the basement and as such has become quite blind. Then there is Nora, who despite her name, bears no resemblance to Mrs. Quinby, though, whenever she goes to the market is thought to be her twin sister. Another interesting fact about Nora is that she is dead and has been for the last three months. You may be wondering why she still lives there since she is, in fact, dead. Well, that is due to the undertaker accidentally taking Nora the blind when he came to collect Nora the Dead. In a fashion, I suppose they are both Nora the dead, and I also suppose that Nora the Blind no longer lives in the house.
Actually, I no longer live in number 1 because after Nora the Dead started rotting I couldn’t take the stench, so I moved into the second house. House number 2 is red and also infested with mice. I did not realize this when I moved in, so I was not as careful as I should have been. Indubitably when I entered the house and hung up my mouse skin curtains the mice took offense and asked me to leave. They were quite polite so I obliged them and moved into house the numbered 3.
This is where I first met Mrs. Quinby. She lived in the basement of number 3 and shares the space with her husband, Mr. Oswald, the minister. Actually, I also lived in the basement, or do I? I don’t know, it is getting awfully hard to think with Mrs. Quinby eating my brain, but where were we?
Oh Yes, the street! It is a nice small street with only the three houses and the teeth. Oh Yes, the teeth! That’s what I was writing to tell you about! The people here are toenails… I mean teeth. Though now I don’t know what I meant by that… Maybe it has something to do with the mouth in the church. Oh, yes that’s the point I was trying to warn you about. There is a …church ..synagogue… in the center of town where we all meet every Thursday…. I mean Saturday. And about a month ago Mrs. Quinby opened the door to the basement and went down there with Nora the Mouse….. And then……. Teeth………..
But enough about me…. How was your weekend in Bora Bora? You know, you should really come to visit some time. You can find me at…… Mrs. Quinby where are we exactly?
Well, that’s peculiar, where exactly is רָעֵב?
What do you mean?……..Oh? …. You are רָעֵב, and that means…….